No Holds Barred mixtapes
No Holds Barred is my current mixtape series which has been running on and off since March 2011. The inspiration is pretty simple: as the name suggests, anything goes. These are the kind of mixes I like to listen to when I’m out and about. Sometimes it could be a mix of one style of music from beginning to end, sometimes it’s a complete variety. I like to sequence the tracks so they make some kind of sense next to each other – that, to me, is the art of DJing. The only limitation is the music I can get my hands on at that particular point in time…
You can listen to any of the mixtapes just by clicking on the Mixcloud “Play” button in the boxes below.
No Holds Barred #26 – Back in the Groove – 25 June 2023
I’m not sure what happened to 2022. Or indeed the first half of 2023. But music has been sadly pushed down the priority list. Not any more! Here’s a starter of some tracks that have been on my playlist for a while – some old, most new or newish. In my typical style, it starts off slow and mellow and builds the tempo right up to the 170s, working through soulful stuff, tech tracks and bruk beats. Hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I did putting it together.
No Holds Barred #25 – Launching 2022 – 16 January 2022
Back for the 25th No Holds Barred mixtape and the first of 2022. This one’s a builder – from the slow but epic Sergio Mendes opener, up to the amazing new STR4TA remix of Anushka, through the 120s with some broken bits, to the awesome Dassai Menace and then up to drum n bass tempo before slowing back down again thanks to newness from Hiatus Kaiyote and ending with an oldie but goodie from D’Nell. Hope you enjoy…
No Holds Barred #24 – Catching up – 4 July 2021
I’d had this one planned for a while but hadn’t got around to recording the mix… from a heady jazz start thanks to Ann Young and the mighty Ezra Collective, through some more mellower beats before a few tracks representing something that gives me massive pleasure, the rebirth of Broken Beat. The West London sound was at the core of my DJing and production for quite a while back in the 2000s so it’s great to hear people like WheelUP taking it forwards, alongside some of the originators who still keep it fresh. Then things take more a 4/4 turn, including an old Mo’ Wax tune that I’ve had going round in my head for a while by Patrick Pulsinger under his iO moniker. Keeping the beats going right to the end come a current favourite BenjiFlow and some Tru Thoughts goodness from Strategy.
No Holds Barred #23 – Missing the dancefloor – 17 January 2021
Having got my need for chilled out sounds well and truly out of my system, I realised I needed some tunes that would sound great on a decent club system so here’s a mix of new and old – starting fairly deep with Joy Orbison and a classic from Mark E, but picking up the pace and heading to some proper hands-in-the-air gear from Norma Jean Bell, Mousse T and MF Robots. I wanted to end on a positive note with all the stuff that’s going on right now so who better than Terri Walker and the epic “Our Time Is Coming” from MAW beautifully remixed by Jazzanova from back in the day. If I close my eyes, I’m almost back at The Magnet in Liverpool spinning this on their Funktion One sound system with a cold beer in hand…..
No Holds Barred #22 – Chillout special – 3 January 2021
2020 was one hell of a year for most of us, one way or another. I was lucky to get some time to chill out at the end of it so I thought I’d try to carry some of that into 2021 with a very relaxed No Holds Barred. Nothing here for the dance floor, just some tracks to stick on and savour… but it’s far from an hour of beatless ambience! Enjoy instrumentals like David Axelrod’s classic Holy Thursday and Massive Attack’s epic Weather Storm to beautiful vocals from Dee Dee Bridgwater, Andreya Triana, Rhi and Erykah Badu. And let’s try to keep some of that spirit into 2021!
No Holds Barred #21 – 17 May 2020
Another lockdown mixtape, kicking off with a cracking re-edit of The Pharcyde from Conrad which sent me off on a hip hop-tempo with tracks from Kaidi Tatham, the latest (and presumably last) Gang Starr album, and three big classics from J Dilla, De La and BDP. Things chilled out a bit thanks to Erykah Badu, Green Tea Peng and LTJ Bukem which took me towards to Mo’Wax section with DJs Shadow and Krush joining forces then flipping to drum n’ bass old (Solo & Aura, DJ Pulse) and new (Mako, Kasra & Enei) and the epic Clipz remix of Koffee that I still can’t get out of my head for hours after I play it. I couldn’t let the mix finish without a nod of respect to Ty, who we lost far, far too early to coronavirus a couple of weeks back. These are strange times indeed but I hope you enjoy the tunes as much as I did.
No Holds Barred #20 – 29 March 2020
It’s March 2020 and we’re in self-isolation. Every day brings a strange reminder that life is not normal right now – and may never be again. I just wanted to play some tunes to cheer myself up a bit and having woken up with RSL’s “The Mast” as an earworm, for no particular reason, I started with that and no other plan. I ended up mixing together a chunk of house tempo stuff, some Brazilian classics, some of my favourite soulful jazz (or jazzy soul) before some drum n’ bass to conclude. As always , music makes things feel better so I hope you enjoy this mix and even if it’s just for a little while, lose yourself in the beats and bars. Keep safe everyone.
No Holds Barred #19 – 9 June 2019
Finally… A long overdue freestyle mixtape, put together one rainy Sunday afternoon. Starting with the unique sound of Clever Austin, working through some old, some relatively recent and some brand new stuff as usual, inspired by what has been on rotation over the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!
No Holds Barred #18 – 2 September 2018
Where does the time go? Who knows… Enough pondering: there is SO much amazing music about at the moment… I just had to grab a few minutes and get a new NHB uploaded. From the downtempo amazingness of the Georgia Anne Muldrew and Yazmin Lacey tunes (tracks that have me reaching for repeat every time), through the return of Chaka Khan (produced by Switch in an awesome combo) to my now habitual disco-y selection and finishing with a UK Garage classic inspired by the fabulous Zed Bias tune that precedes it, we cover a lot of ground. As usual! Hope you enjoy… and if you do, why not tweet me and let me know?
No Holds Barred #17 – 14 January 2018
“Ah yeah, we’re back in business, baby” – as the opening track says! It has been longer than I’d have liked but I’m back with another mixtape in my ongoing mission to mix up new and old music that I love. This one’s very much a game of two halves with the early hip hop/funk of the new Lack of Afro track moving quickly into 4/4 territory with some disco-y and then house-y bits that came out towards the end of 2017. There’s a neat sidestep into some broken beat – there seems to be some new bruk emerging at last with EVM128 and the maestro Kaidi Tatham leading the way, with a nod back to the genre’s heyday with the Jazzanova remix of MAW. Then it’s very much into funky territory with some tracks representing early girl power, long before the Spice Girls (including the amazing all-female rock/funk outfit Birtha), before hitting some jazzy notes with Cal Trader and Grady Tate. I had to finish off with Zero DB in Frank de Jo Jo mode. I’m not even sorry.
No Holds Barred #16 – 9 July 2017
It’d been a little while but it was a beautiful sunny July afternoon and music needed mixing… so i’m back with the usual No Holds Barred mix of styles. This time I kicked off with some summery soulful hip hop from the awesome PPP and the Grand Central crew. Moving on, I went for a few footwork-y bits including a brilliant remix of Portishead’s Mysterons. Some of the footwork stuff I’m hearing reminds me of 90s drum and bass so a bit of Wax Doctor fitted nicely into the mix before resetting into a nu disco kind of mood with tracks from the likes of Bas Roos, Joey Negro and Fouk. A house classic from Wall of Sound was almost the end but the gospel inspiration took me to the Axis Choir to close out the mix. As ever, I hope you enjoy the selection. Until number 17…
No Holds Barred #15
Time for episode 15…. the usual mixtape of tracks that I’m listening to right now. From some of the freshest hip hop I’ve heard for years (Tribe, Run the Jewels) through some classic “trip hop”, disco, house and on to a 15 minute workout of brand new drum n bass, here is my latest offering.
No Holds Barred #14 – November 2016
According to Wikipedia, “Broken beat or “BRUK” is an electronic music genre that can be characterized by syncopated rhythm typically in 4/4 meter, with staggered or punctuated snare beats and/or hand claps.” According to me, it is one of the greatest music genres of all time and a style of music that heavily influenced me in the days when I was producing and DJing regularly. I guess, really, it was my “scene” and I still miss those heady days…. so I decided a bit of a retrospective was in order. This isn’t a “best of”, it isn’t in any way a list of my favourite broken tracks, it’s just a Sunday afternoon mix of tunes in a single genre (ish) that took my fancy. Hope you enjoy.
No Holds Barred #13 – June 2016
So… it has been a while! But the urge took me again to make a mixtape and here we are with the usual mix of some old, some new, some borrowed and certainly the odd blue note or two. One of the inspirations to fire up Traktor (how things have changed) was some new music from a hero of mine Mr Dominic Stanton, here in Sonar’s Ghost mode. There are two tracks in the mix from him – the Umod-esque opener and the full on bruk track near the end. Both absolute winners for me. Some hip hop and sountrack vibes took me into what I’m informed by the local radio is the “tune of the summer” from Cookin’ on 3 Burners and the ever-awesome Harleighblu. I got a bit overexcited with the four to the floor stuff for a while – some originals and the odd cheeky re-edit (spot the Bowie) make up the next part of the mix before Nik Weston’s nice re-edit of Rim Kwaku Obeng shows BBE are as on it as ever and a naughty latin workout from Diesler before we’re into bruk new and old, closing out with the mighty Nutmeg, which I think was a Dego alias from back in the day… As ever, I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed making it. I might not keep you waiting so long for the next one.
No Holds Barred #12 – November 2015
No Holds Barred #11 – March 2015
After the retrospective No Holds Barred 10, I knew I wanted to make this one as fresh as possible. So it only features music from 2015 – well, sort of, if you want to be pedantic about the couple of re-edits that feature. We journey from the funk of the Mighty Mocambos through to more four-on-the-floor gear before breaking down into some very 2015 tracks from Jonny Faith and Braille. It all gets a bit moody with Biome, then a bit of drum n bass, a swift sidestep into the jaaazzz of Nostalgia 77 before we end with a couple of belting female vocal tracks from Native Dancer and Moonlight Breakfast. It appealed to my contrary side to end with a track called “Hello”… Enjoy!
No Holds Barred #10
The tenth instalment of No Holds Barred and I celebrated with a crate dig… It was inspired by hearing Anushka’s “Atom Bomb” (featured in a previous mix) and likening it to the Fila Brazilia mix of Lamb’s “Cottonwool”, which is the second track here. It sent me on a mission to find the 12″ which had been buried for some time. Along the way, I started pulling out some other mid to late(ish) 90s classics which hadn’t been aired for a long time… Nostalgic? Yes. Self-indulgent? OK, maybe a bit.
Still, get ready to enjoy some trip hop, “big beat” (remember that?!), a touch of 303-driven acid, some gospel house and the mighty Nervous Track… they were good times, right? What do you mean you were only 3?
No Holds Barred #9 – October 2014
Another in my ongoing mix series. This one opens with a track that really caught my ear the first time I heard it, “Atom Bomb” by Anushka then swings (hopefully with some logic) between bang-up-to-date and older tracks. The tempo drops with the legendary U.N.K.L.E. remix of Massive Attack’s Karmacoma before travelling further afield with a cracking new track from Quantic, part of a selection from the consistently excellent Tru Thoughts label. I’ve been waiting for a chance to sneak in the Slow Supreme rework of Earth, Wind & Fire for a while (a Japan-only release that still makes me want to bust moves) which took me into a soulful jazzy workout before ending on another remix-you-don’t-hear-very-often with Portishead reworking Paul Weller on a 7″ that was distributed free with the NME many, many years ago… As usual, all over the place musically. I think in a good way.
No Holds Barred #8 – July 2014
Welcome to the latest in my occasional series of mixtapes taking a wander through my listening habits. This one kicks off with a meeting of old and new school De La Soul then journeys through some classic hip hop tracks (inspired by my good Twitter friend Michael Carty) from the likes of Gza, Q-Tip and a triplet from The Beastie Boys. There’s some bang up to date tunes from Rome Fortune (produced by Four Tet) and the amazing “Your Love Weighs a Tonne” remix of Nostalgia 77 by Ambassadeurs before a diversion into some awe-inspiring 90s drum n bass from Makoto. A cheeky unreleased (as far as I know) banger from Maddslinky that he gave me straight off his PC several years ago takes us into a Ballistic Brothers classic I rediscovered recently, then it’s back into 2014 with starRo and Hidden Orchestra rounding things off. Hectic and eclectic as ever – hope you enjoy.
No Holds Barred #7 – February 2014
Another in my occasional series of mixtapes, bringing together old, new, borrowed and blue. This mixtape starts out with a Pakistan-meets-Rio feel, heads through South America before hitting jungle of a different kind, into funk, soul, a touch of jacking jazziness before some straight up hip hop in the home strait.
1. Ponteio – Sachal Studios Orchestra [Sachal]
2. Papao – Guido de Palma & Jazzinho
3. Tereza Sabe Sambar – Elis Regina [Talkin Loud]
4. New Morning – Kitty Winter [Intercord]
5. Sambassim (DJ Patife Remix) – Fernando Porto [V]
6. Heaven – Carlito [Creative Source]
7. 125th Street – Ed Solo v Click ‘n’ Cycle [emotif]
8. Shifting Gears – Johnny Hammond Smith [CTi]
9. Funky President – James Brown [Polydor]
10. Fat Jam – Ben Sidram [Blue Thumb]
11. Hot Music (Jazz Mix) – Soho [BBE]
12. In Love – Shur-I-Kan [Dikso]
13. Breaks My Heart – Frameworks feat Kathrin DeBoer [First Word]
14. What Am I Supposed to Do – Ruth Koleva
15. Like You Never (Simon S Remix) – Ty [Tru Thoughts]
16. Everyday Grind – Dizz1 feat Aloe Blacc [Tru Thoughts]
17. A Nights Interlude – Nightmares on Wax [Mo’ Wax]
18. Deep – Essa feat LSK [First Word]
No Holds Barred #6: August 2013
No theme here other than some quality music that I’ve been playing or hearing of late… This one really crosses the boundaries of genres and styles, from drum n bass to out and out jazz to funk, soul, hip hop, house, re-edits… you get the picture. Enjoy.
1. Together – Omni Trio
2. Parallel Universe – 4Hero
3. Shiftless Shuffle – Herbie Hancock
4. Inner City Life – Hackney Colliery Band
5. People Make the World Go Round – Innerzone Orchestra
6. Five Man Army – Massive Attack
7. Stand Up Jamrock – Bob Marley
8. The Man – Omar
9. Melancholic State – Bembe Segue
10. Play Me – Harleighblu
11. Entre Rejas – Quantic y Anita Tijoux
12. A Night in Tunisia – Kerbside Collection
13. The 29/8 Steps – Outside
14. Rock With You (The Reflex Revision) – Michael Jackson
15. Sure Thing (Opolopo rebounce) – St Germain feat John Lee Hooker
16. Disco Echo Motor Freak – thatmanmonkz
17. Situation (US 12″ mix) – Yazoo
18. You Can’t Hide (Your Love From Me) (Greg Wilson edit of Moplen edit of Levan Mix) – David Joseph
19. Floating – Tall Black Guy
20. Samurai (Live Version) – Jazztronik
21. The Sunchaser II – Diesler & the Jazzinvaders
No Holds Barred #5: March 2013
This is the latest in my ongoing mission to create great mixtapes… As ever there’s a blend of styles – working my way from Latin through disco and house to Afro (Femi Kuti), funk (The Impellers), jazz (Mark de Clive Lowe), two amazing female vocal performances (from Sophie Hunger and Izzi Dunn) and a touch of reggae rootsiness at the end from Yesking. There’s no distinction between old and new music here – it’s all just good music and I hope you enjoy!
1-After Sunrise – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77
2-Rondo da Cuica – Da Lata
3-Samba Magic – Diesler feat Laura Vane
4-Tell Me Your Secrets (Diesler Remix) – Deela
5-Shiro – Ame
6-Can’t Change Me (Ron Trent Remix) – NDambi
7-Hooked On You (Dim’s Old School of Disco Mix) – Cerrone feat Jocelyn Brown
8-Turn the Point – Faze Action
9-Truth Don Die (Nu Yorican Soul Mix) – Femi Kuti
10-Disco Unusual – North By Northeast
11-Root Down and Get It – Jimmy Smith
12-Do What I Wanna Do – The Impellers
13-Darkuman Junktion – Sons and Daughters Of Lite
14-Take The Space Trane – Mark de Clive-Lowe & the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra
15-Rererevolution – Sophie Hunger
16-Fourth Wall – Hidden Orchestra
17-It Wasn’t Love – Izzi Dunn
18-Overproof – Yesking
No Holds Barred #4 – November 2012
I was particularly saddened to hear of the passing of a personal hero, Terry Callier, recently so it was only fitting to begin and end a new mixtape with tracks from him. If he’d only ever written one song, Ordinary Joe (I list it as my favourite song if ever asked), he would have been eligible for genius standing in my eyes and the fact he wrote and performed so many other classics should have seen him considered alongside Marvin Gaye in my personal view… By all accounts an incredibly humble guy, he is a sad loss. But rather than wallow in that, I wanted to move on in celebratory mode, hence “Let’s Dance’ from Pleasure leading into an extended tour through some of my favourite disco-influenced tracks and re-edits of late. A new track from Photek is worth celebrating, never mind a new album, and that took me off in a drum n bass excursion before a brief diversion into broken beats and a few tracks that illustrate why Tru Thoughts are still at the top of their game and that was that. As ever, hope you enjoy!
1. I Don’t Want To See Myself (Without You) – Terry Callier [Acid Jazz]
2. You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman – Terry Callier [Cadet]
3. Ordinary Joe – Terry Callier [Cadet]
4. Let’s Dance – Pleasure [Fantasy]
5. Funny Saga – The Gaff [Katakana Edits]
6. Keep on Stepping – FOC Edits [78 Recordings]
7. Love and Soul Saving – OOFT! [Foto]
8. Wishing – Late Nite Tuff Guy [Get Down Edits]
9. All Outta Breath – Yam Who [Los Grandes]
10. In Love – Shur-I-Kan [Dikso]
11. Don’t Get Me Wrong – Recloose [Delusions of Grandeur]
12. Space Dust – Galactic Force Band [Springboard]
13. Pyramid – Photek [KU:PALM]
14. Chemical Imbalance (DJ Die Mix) – Karim Kendra [Sirkus]
15. The Hidden (Kaizen Blind Leading the Blind VIP) – Argento [Two Hungry Ghosts]
16. Get Started featuring Omar (A-Sides Remix) – Mark de Clive Lowe [Tru Thoughts]
17. Watch the Media featuring Profisee – Hint [Tru Thoughts]
18. Afro Blu (T-Roy Mix) – Celia Stalin [Ajabu]
19. Hey Girl – ‘Ear Dis [Wunnademwuns]
20. Changes – Kylie Auldist [Tru Thoughts]
21. You Were Just Foolin’ Me – Terry Callier [Cadet]
No Holds Barred #3 – September 2012
The third instalment of No Holds Barred is a mixed bag, as ever: some fresh new music, some recent-ish tracks and some bona fide classics selected and arranged in an order that makes sense to me. Hope you enjoy!
1. Bear Witness – Dr Octagon [Mo’ Wax]
2. Life featuring Strategy – Sleepin’ Giantz [Tru Thoughts]
3. Synthetic Substitution – Melvin Bliss [Contempo]
4. Would You Believe In Me – John Lucien [RCA]
5. Capricorn Rising – Richard Evans feat Linda Williams [BBE]
6. Nights Over Egypt – The Jones Girls [Philadelphia]
7. The Future Ain’t the Same – Neon Phusion [Laws of Motion]
8. Gotta Keep Me Goin’ – Yannah Valdevit [Tru Thoughts]
9. Stormy Weather – Cornelia [Exceptional]
10. Love I’m Giving – Gwen McCrae [Rhythm King]
11. Body Moves – Rare Essence [ZR]
12. Movin’ – Larry Graham & Graham Central Station feat Prince [Art of Groove]
13. La Belle Vie – Souleance [First Word]
14. Oenothera – Breeze & Quadrat [Sophisticate]
15. Cruel Intentions (Greg Wilson Edit) – Simian Mobile Disco [Wichita]
16. Orisa feat Dreiser and Sexto Sentido (Alex Patchwork Remix) – Havana Cultura [Brownswood]
17. World Keeps Spinning – Landslide [Round the Houses]
18. I Wear Flares – Tatham, Mensah, Lord & Ranks [2000Black]
19. Turning the Tide – Jinadu [Bitches Brew]
No Holds Barred #2 – June 2012
No Holds Barred is a series of mixtapes just playing music I like in an order that makes sense to me… the kind of thing I like to listen to in the car or on the headphones… nothing fancy, just me doing my thing in the hope you might enjoy it too.
After an enforced break from this kind of thing, I’m back! No theme or plan to this mixtape, just music I like.
1. Rugo – Haku (Use of Weapons)
2. Stolen Moments – United Future Organisation (Talkin’ Loud)
3. I, Human – Jazzanova (Sonar Kollectiv)
4. Snapback (CMC & Silenta Remix) – Baker Brothers (Record Kicks)
5. One Night In A Disco (Greg Wilson Rework) – Late Nite Tuff Guy (Dessert Island Discs)
6. In the Trees – Faze Action (Nuphonic)
7. Let It Happen – Vangelis (Vertigo)
8. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part II) – Pink Floyd (Harvest)
9. Gone Today, Here Tomorrow – Landslide (Round the Houses)
10. Rub A Dub (Upsetters) – Susan Cadogan (Trojan)
11. I’ll Keep A Light On In My Window – Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Barbaro (Tru Thoughts)
12. June – Gizelle Smith (Record Kicks)
13. Funk Is Ruling My Head – Pitch & Scratch (Legere)
14. Emergency – Mark de Clive Lowe (Tru Thoughts)
15. Slow Days – Sunner Soul (Vintage Music)
16. Don’t Stop – The Candy Dealers (Editorial)
17. Far Beyond – The Sunburst Band (ZR)
No Holds Barred #1 – March 2011
This is the original No Holds Barred… It starts with a tribute to a label that had a massive influence on me when I started out with two (belt drive) turntables and a mixer, Ninja Tune, then moves on to some tracks I was hammering around the time, some old some new. Hope you enjoy.
1. Dark Blood – DJ Food [Ninja Tune]
2. Eine Kleine Hedmusik – Coldcut [Ninja Tune]
3. Only For the Hip Hop Lovers – London Funk All Stars [Ninja Tune]
4. Spiral – DJ Food [Ninja Tune]
5. Revolutionary Women of the Windmill (Low Profile Mix) – Up, Bustle & Out [Ninja Tune]
6. It’s Not Clear – Dr Rubberfunk [Jalapeno]
7. Aim for the Flickering Flame – Latyrx [Mo Wax]
8. Mr Chombee Has the Flaw – The Herbaliser [Ninja Tune]
9. Also Sprach Zarathustra – Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra [Ubiquity]
10. Ashley’s Roachclip – The Soul Searchers [BBE}
11. Bonafied Funk – The Brand New Heavies & Main Source [Delicious Vinyl]
12. Root Down – The Beastie Boys [Grand Royal]
13. Thriller Dub – Space Rangers [Plimsoll]
14. Trust Skynet – Deep Space Orchestra [Use of Weapons]
15. Ricochet – BB & Q Band [BBE]
16. Savin’ the Day (The Revenge Flat Top Mix) – Alessi [Jiscomusic]